Social Media is all the buzz these days. For those in the church this new technology leaves us wondering how to use this tool as a means to support our ministries.
There are questions of mastering the technology, engaging the conversation, social evangelism, social media polices, Facebook group vs. a Facebook Page, and the like.
The cultural shift occurring in society is greater than social media alone. Social Media is just one of the first manifestations of this shift.
A Shift in Communication
We are in the beginnings of a communication transition. Only the second such transition in the history of humanity.
The first was post Gutenberg when society transitioned from the Oral tradition to that of print.
This communication transition precipitated a cultural revolution and ushered in Modernity. All of modernity was built on the written word. Information was controlled by the select few with the funds to produce and publish content.
It was a communications model of one to many – pulpits, stadiums, books, TV, and Movies all existed within this model.
Many to Many
The popularity of Social Media is in part because it shifts the one to many model on its head. Social Media allows for communication of Many to Many. This communication occurs with out the gatekeepers of publishing houses, TV networks or big Movie studios.
Anyone can sign-up for a social networking site and instantaneously have a platform in which to communicate with Many. Geography is no longer a barrier to communication These social networks bring individuals together without regard to national boarders, and with programs such as Google Translate language in no longer barrier to communication!
Many to Many communication allows everyone to be creators and publishers of content.
What Does All This Mean for the Church?
I don’t know exactly. We are just at the very early stages of this transition and technology continues to evolve at ever increasing pace.
I do believe that social media is just the catalyst for this transition and those of us in the church would be wise to be thinking beyond the tools of Social Media and the implications they have on social communication.
Consider this… The high school Class of 2011 was the last class to graduate that was born before the mass spread of the internet. In the last eighteen years we have become a digitally connected society.
All future generations will only become more digital. Many schools are already replacing printed text books with digital readers. In a few short year this will be the norm for all students.
Soon your pocket book will be replaced with your smart phone. The need to carry cash or credit cards will be replaced by waving you phone by a terminal at a cash register.
Researchers have already developed LED contacts that enable you to place a screen directly on your eye.
So I say again social media is only the beginning of this digital transition in communication, and will have lasting impact on how all future generation communicate the Gospel.
As the church we not only need to be mastering the tools of social media to connect with and communicate with society, we also have to be studying how these transitions in communication will transform how we are community and how we exist as church.
I propose we will look extremely different as a body in just a short 20 years, but more on that in a future post.
Please share your thoughts on how shifting communication norms will change how we are church in the comments below.